Climate of Europe
The climate of Europe is of a temperate, continental nature, with a maritime climate prevailing on the western coasts and a Mediterranean climate in the south. The climate is strongly conditioned by the Gulf Stream, which keeps mild air over the high latitude northwestern region over the winter months, especially in Ireland, the UK and coastal Norway. Whilst Western Europe has an oceanic climate, Eastern Europe has a drier, continental climate. Parts of the Central European plains have a hybrid oceanic/continental climate. Four seasons occur in Eastern Europe, while southern Europe experiences distinct wet season and dry seasons, with prevailing hot and dry conditions during the summer months. The heaviest precipitation occurs downwind of water bodies due to the prevailing westerlies, with higher amounts also seen in the Alps. Tornadoes occur within Europe, with most but not all occurrences being weak. The Netherlands and United Kingdom experience a disproportionately high number of tornadic events.
Prevailing westerlies (which squeeze between the Icelandic Low and Azores High) bring rain from the Atlantic ocean, the position moves southward during winter and rises further north in summer. The Siberian High brings colder, drier weather from the east. Away from the sea, parts of Central and Eastern Europe have a borderline Oceanic/Continental Climate as they are milder than they would otherwise be due to the open ice-free waters of the North/Baltic Seas and lack of mountain barriers, but are not as mild as the Western coasts, and are subject to more frequent snowfalls. The Danube region through the Balkans, Ukraine and Southern Russia have a continental climate with cold winters and hotter summers, some areas bordering on a dry steppe climate with only certain months of higher precipitation, often due to thunderstorms. Some coastal regions of the Black Sea have microclimates that are borderline humid continental/humid subtropical (or sometimes just the latter) due to the winters being mild enough and summer precipitation being high enough to preclude them as being Mediterranean, for example in Sochi, Russia. On the plains of Northern European Russia up to the Ural Mountains, the winter climate is much harsher than elsewhere in Europe with many months of below freezing average temperatures but with periods of hot summer weather. Nevertheless year-to-year variations can produce different climates such as temperate in the winter, and tropical in